Taranaki ready to face disaster

Last updated 09:55 26/04/2012

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The man who helped rural communities deal with the aftermath of the devastating 2010 Southland snowstorm is impressed with Taranaki's readiness for an adverse event.

Rural Support Trust Southland chairman Lindsay Wright was in Taranaki this week for a two-day exercise on responding to adverse events in rural communities.

Representatives of Northland, Southland, East Coast, Manawatu and Taranaki rural support trusts attended the exercise at New Plymouth's Civil Defence headquarters, where they dealt with the scenario of an eruption of Mt Taranaki.

Mr Wright said his visit to Taranaki was a chance to help others learn from real experiences in an adverse event, such as the Southland snowstorm.

"I'm impressed with Taranaki's planning and readiness. They're well-prepared and they've done their homework. They're well- connected with their stakeholders, are reviewing their planning and are ready to respond to an event."

The retired sheep and beef farmer said he was able to use his own experience of hard times to help farmers.

"It's important to have networks in place so that there are resources to call on when things need doing. We're not there to fix problems but we are there to help farmers help themselves."

The experience of various adverse events was shared during the Taranaki training.

"While the events were totally different, there are parallel messages - it's about net- working, planning and being ready to go," Mr Wright said.

New Taranaki chairman Graeme Hight, now of Brixton, near Waitara, helped establish the Taranaki trust in 2008. He replaces Peter Adamski.

One of six trustees, he said he would like to raise awareness of the trust among farmers.

"I'd like farmers to know what the trust is about so that when something happens they know who to talk to. Some are not aware of what we can do."

Rural Trust national co-ordi- nator Jude Addenbrooke said the exercise was a chance for the trusts to ensure their planning, their networks and their knowledge of appropriate actions after an adverse event were up to date.

The trusts also supported farmers in times of need, and could offer assistance to help them manage, for example, animal welfare issues or financial problems.

New Zealand has 14 rural support trusts which assist rural individuals and communities after an adverse event such as a weather bomb, flood, drought, or snowstorm.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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